Photo credit: Badmintonthaitoday.com
We have reported it many times before. So has most other badminton related medias in the world. Indonesian legend Liliyana Natsir stops her career this week.
Indonesia Masters 2019, which kicks off this Tuesday, is the very last international tournament for Liliyana Natsir. The 33-year old has delivered tons of achievements to her country during her 24 years in badminton, 17 of which were on the national team.
Gold at the World Championships in 2005, 2007, 2013 and 2017 plus Olympic gold in 2016 are by far the biggest results for Natsir and her respective partners in her main category, mixed double. Together with current partner Tontowi Ahmad she has won Indonesia Masters three times; 2010, 2012 and 2015. The tournament was known as Indonesia Open Grand Prix Gold in those years.
Now Indonesia Masters start again. Will Liliyana Natsir finish her glorious career on the podium?
Focus is on Natsir
All the top players have travelled to Jakarta this week. Indonesia Masters is a World Tour Super 500 tournament and they all take it very serious. Apart from important points for the world ranking, the shuttlers will share prize money of USD 350,000. The biggest focus is on the mixed double category though – all Indonesians talk about Natsir…
She and Tontowi Ahmad are seeded 4 this week. Their journey towards success begins with a first round match against Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Reddy N. Sikki. The winners are up against either Malaysian or Indonesian opponents in second round.
Due to withdrawals from other seeded pairs, the only other seeded entry in the half of the draw where Natsir and Ahmad are placed is Malaysia’s top pair Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying (6). The two pairs have the chance to meet in the semifinal this week if everything goes well. It will in that case be a rematch of the Olympic final from 2016. A nice potential last or second-last match for the Indonesian legend.
The Minions are favorites
Indonesia’s outstanding world number one pair in men’s double obviously tops the list of seeded entries this week as well. Marcus Gideon Fernaldi and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo won Malaysia Masters last week and are the favorites to take the title at Indonesia Masters as well.
The top seeded entry in women’s double also won Malaysia Masters last week. It is Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota who defeated Indonesian’s Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu in the final. If the Indonesian duo wants revenge for that defeat, both pairs will have to make it to the final again. They are placed in each their half of the draw again this week.
Momota seeks revenge
Kento Momota is surely eager to wash away the dark spot from last week where he saw an early exit in first round of Malaysia Masters. This week at Indonesia Masters the outstanding Japanese player is top seeded and he faces Jan Ø. Jørgensen in first round. The winner could run into another Dane in second round; either Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus or Khosit Phetpradab will be waiting there.
Finally Japan also tops the seeded entries at women’s single where Nozomi Okuhara is the highest ranked player. Last week she lost to Saina Nehwal and the two can meet again in the semifinal in Jakarta. Ratchanok Intanon and Carolina Marín who played the final at Malaysia Masters are also placed in the same half of the draw; they are also facing a potential repeat in the semifinal. But, as usual there are many players in the women’s single category who has the potential to go all the way, so let’s just wait and see…